This is what we do for the joy of the King,
For His peaceable Kingdom,
For a world in despair.
And this is why we bring any hope we can give,
Any bread from the table,
Any touch of His hand.
This is what we do.
This is where we go.
This is why we sing.
This is how we live.
This is who we are.

Saturday, May 31, 2008

Every Breath I Take . . .

I know I'm ridiculously philosophical in my life observations sometimes--often about things that don't amount to much of anything. So just humor me and patiently hear me out for a minute.

Today as I was driving to the church (burning gold in my gas tank every inch of the way), I was contemplating how incredibly complicated everyone's life is.  I saw people busily doing their thing--whether it was working, washing their cars, heading to the beach, mowing lawns, or whatever.  And all this on a "relaxing" Southern California Saturday afternoon! (When we were in New York last summer, I was overwhelmed by that sense of complexity--especially when walking the sidewalks of Times Square. Tens of thousands of people crammed into a small space, moving at breakneck speed.) If there is a word to describe the majority of humanity, it would be "busy."

Another odd philosophical-type quirk about me is that I often find myself thinking about what might be happening at any given moment in any given time zone, on any hemisphere.  Early summer here in  America--early winter in Australia.  Mid-afternoon here in California--middle of the night in Germany--next morning in the Philippines! I imagine tourists in Paris enjoying candlelight dinners at sidewalk cafes at the very same moment tourists in Hawaii are just opening their eyes to face a new day's adventure in paradise.

Then it struck me rather dramatically--in spite of its glaring obviousness:  in little more than the time it takes to say one's name, every human being on this planet has taken a breath--regardless of time zone or hemispheric locale or the infinite kinds of individual activities that occupy our attention. Breathing is the one constant, moment-by-moment common denominator that links us to each other.  Billions of people practically simultaneously breathing in and breathing out.  Although the reality of that observation is so blatently obvious, we seldom ever stop to think about it.  Wouldn't it be interesting if at a packed Super Bowl, or on Times Square, or any other insanely populated location everyone stopped talking and moving and just breathed?  I wonder what it would sound like, all of that inhaling and exhaling being the focus of everyone's attention?

The truth is, whether we focus upon it or not, it's happening.  If we happen to focus on it from time to time, we'll realize that every breath is a gift--a gift from God.  We'll realize that we are privileged to share this moment in time with billions of other people that God loves.  We'll realize that as we remain alive--one breath at a time--His Spirit in us ("inspiration" and "animation") is what makes "living" have meaning.

Okay, I feel better now.

Wednesday, May 28, 2008

This Is Your Brain On Music

I bought this amazing book the other day:  THIS IS YOUR BRAIN ON MUSIC:  THE SCIENCE OF A HUMAN OBSESSION.  It's one of those art-meets-science books that explores how the human mind interprets and finds pleasure in music.  Really fascinating.

The author, Dr. Daniel J. Levitin began his career in the music business as a band member and record producer/engineer (Blue Oyster Cult, Chris Isaak, Santana, The Grateful Dead).  He became intrigued with the science of music and acoustics and earned a Ph.D at Stanford.

While earning his doctorate at Stanford (in the 1990s), Levitin became a close friend with John R. Pierce, famous for supervising the building of the TRANSfer resISTOR ("transistor"), and for launching the first telecommunications satellite, TELSTAR.  For many years, he headed the Bell Telephone/AT&T laboratories. 
On one occasion at Stanford, Pierce--brilliant about science, but completely uneducated about rock music--asked Levitin to come to dinner and play six songs that capture all that was important to know about rock & roll music.  Levitin's six choices for the evening were:

1. "Long Tall Sally," by Little Richard
2. "Roll Over Beethoven" by the Beatles
3. "All Along the Watchtower," by Jimi Hendrix
4. "Wonderful Tonight," by Eric Clapton
5. "Little Red Corvett" by Prince
6. "Anarchy in the U.K." by the Sex Pistols.

I have to confess, I didn't know a single one of these tunes!  But if they were significant enough for someone in the know (like Levitin) to share with someone of John Pierce's magnitude, I figure I should become familiar with them myself.  (Sorry...Once a music history teacher, always a music history teacher.)  They really do capture much of the wide essence of what we know as Rock & Roll.

So I share these six foundational songs with you here . . . Enjoy.

Long Tall Sally - Little Richard
free video hosting

Roll Over Beethoven - The Beatles

All Along The Watchtower - Jimi Hendrix

Wonderful Tonight - Eric Clapton (obviously a remake of his 1976 classic!)

Anarchy In The UK - The Sex Pistols  (wow....this is wild!)

Tuesday, May 27, 2008

Coldplay Video

OK, here's the situation.  I knew COLDPLAY was a popular band, but it's really hard to keep up with all the hot bands.  When you've lived through nearly six decades, you see a lot of bands come and go.

Anyway, when Heidi listed Coldplay as #12 in her "Things I Love" post, and so many commented on her #12 being so great, I felt an obligation to check them out.  I'd actually heard some of their tunes--just hadn't really put a name with them.

I found this remarkable video ("The Scientist") which was new to me, although I'd heard others talking about it. In case you haven't watched it, take a few minutes to do so.  Beautifully (and painstakingly) done. Very haunting and thought-provoking, too.

Friday, May 23, 2008

We Remember Them . . .

Memorial Day is a HOLIDAY ("holy day") in the truest sense of the word. It's holy because it is "set apart" or sanctified by the act of intentionally and respectfully remembering those who have given all that they have for others.

Anyway, I have never been a real observer of Memorial Day.  My mother's first husband died during World War II.  He's the only one in my family's circle who has ever been killed in battle. (When we were going through Mom's things after her death, we came across the flag she received at her husband's funeral.  My sister--his daughter--didn't realize Mom had that flag.  It was a very poignant moment to watch her hold and touch that old flag that had been closeted away for over 60 years.)

Maybe it was finding that flag, or getting older, or reading the Catton books on the Civil War, but somehow this year, I feel much more connected to the meaning of the holiday.

I mentioned the other day about some of the horrible statistics of the Civil War.  This morning I found the deaths/wound statistics of all battles in which Americans have been involved.  I share them with you. As we approach Memorial Day, I think it would be good to reflect on these staggering numbers and the flesh-and-blood men and women that they signify.

Battle Deaths - 4,435
Non-Mortal Woundings - 6,188

WAR OF 1812 (1812-1815):
Battle Deaths - 2,260
Non-Mortal Woundings - 4,505

MEXICAN WAR (1846-1848):
Battle Deaths - 1,733
Other Deaths in Service - 11,550
Non-Mortal Woundings - 4,152

Union Battle Deaths - 140,415
Other Deaths in Service (Union) - 224,097
Confederate Battle Deaths - 74,524
Other Deaths in Service (Confederate) - 59,297
Union Non-Mortal Woundings - 281,881
Confederate Non-Mortal Woundings - Unknown

Battle Deaths -  385
Non-Mortal Woundings -  1,662

WORLD WAR I - (1914-1918)
Battle Deaths - 53,402
Other Deaths in Service - 63,114
Non-Mortal Woundings - 204,002

WORLD WAR II - (1941-1945)
Battle Deaths - 291,557
Other Deaths in Service - 113,842
Non-Mortal Woundings - 671,846

KOREAN WAR - (1950-1953)
Battle Deaths - 33,741
Other Deaths (in theater) - 2,833
Other Deaths (not in theater) - 17,672
Non-Mortal Woundings - 103,284

VIETNAM WAR - (1964-1975)
Battle Deaths - 47,424
Other Deaths (in theater) - 10,785
Other Deaths (not in theater) - 32,000
Non-Mortal Woundings - 153,303

Battle Deaths - 147
Other Deaths (in theater) - 235
Other Deaths (not in theater) - 1,590
Non-Mortal Woundings - 467

GLOBAL WAR ON TERROR (October 2001 - Present)
Battle Deaths - 2,333*
Other Deaths (in theater) - 707*
Non-Mortal Woundings - 21,649*
(* = statistics from Department of  Veterans Affairs as of July 1, 2007)

Battle Deaths - 653,708
Other Deaths (in theaters of war) - 14,560
Other Deaths (not in theaters of war) - 525,930
Non-mortal woundings - 1,447,281
LIVING War Veterans (as of 7-1-07) - 17,835,000
LIVING Veterans (War & Peacetime) - 23,698,000

Regardless of one's view of the rightness or wrongness of our current military involvements, we are all certainly in the debt of the faithful men and women who serve us around the world. 

To those who have paid the price of freedom with their lives, we are eternally grateful.  

We will remember!

Thursday, May 22, 2008

Video of Steven and Maria

This is so sweet.  A video the Chapmans shared with their family and friends recently.  By the way, Maria just turned 5 last week.
The 2nd video is of Steven talking about his adopted girls (and his passion for adoption in general); he sings his beautiful father-ballad, "Cinderella" with acoustic guitar.  The third video is really just an audio track of the recorded version of the song.

Such A Tragedy . . .

While most of us were caught up in all the excitement of David Cook's win as Season 7 American Idol, Steven Curtis Chapman and his family were experiencing what has to be the most horrible day of their lives.

The Chapmans' adopted 5-year old daughter, Maria Sue (pictured above with her happy dad), was accidentally struck and killed by an SUV driven by her teenage brother.  The accident occurred in the driveway of their home, and several members of the family watched the whole nightmare unfold.

Here's a link to the story.  I nearly wept when I read that SCC has just released a book about Maria called Cinderella:  The Love of Daddy and His Princess.  Oh, man.

I encourage you to pray for this family in this double tragedy--the death of Maria, and the inevitable mental anguish of her older brother.  It's all so very, very sad.

Tuesday, May 20, 2008

I've Missed Live Theatre!!!

Thanks to the generosity of our good friends Joel and Sheila Lewis, Lyn and I had the privilege of experiencing an evening at the "theahtuh" tonight.  Being a drama-type person, I'm embarrassed to say that after nearly 19 years of being in southern California, it was my/our first time to walk through the doors of South Coast Repertory. It won't be our last.

The show tonight was TAKING STEPS, a contemporary British farce.  It was brilliantly funny. It reminded me a lot of some of the vintage Neil Simon plays--which makes sense since it was written in 1979 by one of Simon's contemporaries, playwright Alan Ayckbourn.

It plays through June 15, and I highly recommend it to anyone who enjoys great writing, physical humor, amazing acting, and brilliant directing. I'd see it three or four more times if I had the opportunity. Way fun!!!  Thanks Joel and Sheila!!!


I found out today about this jazz band from an all-girl high school in Japan.
Incredible sound!  Love the bows after the solos.  (A couple of the girls reminded me of "Boo," the little "human" in MONSTERS, INC.) 

Miles Davis never sounded any better!  (Well, that may be a stretch, but they're pretty amazing, nevertheless!)

Monday, May 19, 2008

McCain on SNL . . . Hmmmmmmmm

Okay, did Senator McCain's appearance on Saturday Night Live make anybody else besides me a bit uncomfortable?  He had that deer-in-the-headlights look, and he couldn't keep his eyes off the cue cards. The schtick about the pork barrel spending was funny--especially the part about paved roads in Arizona--but it made him look like a lousy and ineffective senator. I felt bad for him--and I felt bad for the Republican Party.  I'm not too sure this was a good move for him. Did  he let the SNL writers have full reign on the material?  Sure seemed like it. (The spot on the "SNL Weekly News Update was just as awkward for me.)

Here's his first bit . . . 

Here's the "news" bit.

Sunday, May 18, 2008

Free At Last!!!

A Union flag that survived one of the major battles
of the American Civil War

Last night I finally finished the last of the three Civil War books by Bruce Catton.  Each one was between 450 and 500 pages with microscopic print!  ZERO pictures and a few impossible-to-read maps. (The pictures on this post are from the good ole WWW.)  I was so happy to be finished with these tomes--I had my own kind of emancipation!

As long as I spent laboring over these books, I'm glad I invested the time in reading them again.  I'm particularly glad that I was able to complete them before Memorial Day.  When you read about how very close our nation was to genuine separation (and possible annihilation), it puts a profound appreciation in your heart for the very phrase "these United States of America."  I get all emotional now when I see an American flag flapping in the breeze.  

A couple of Union soldiers found some off-time to pose

Since we are caught up today in a controversial war in the Middle East, I thought it would be interesting to share a staggering paragraph from this last Catton book.  While not minimizing or trivializing what is happening in Iraq, these statistics put the specifics of our current military losses (and those of the entire 20th century, for that matter) into an interesting perspective.

"The war was in its fourth year, death and agony were familiar shapes, casualty lists were reaching out to every city and village in the land, day after heartbreaking day, all spring and all summer, and it was hard to see that victory was any nearer now than it had been in the spring. . .Grant and Sherman between them had lost more than 90,000 men in less than four months. Never before had the North had to bear anything like this, and when in the middle of July the President signed a call for 500,000 more men it looked as if it might go on and on forever."

Ninety thousand men--just in the North alone. In four months alone! The Confederate losses were nearly as mind-boggling.  Many more thousands would die before Lee Surrendered at Appomattox Courthouse in April of 1865.

A typical soldiers' campground at roll call

And why were these slaughter-house battles raging?  Was it really "states rights" as many like to paint it?  Was is the fear of economic impact from the loss of slavery?

Here's another sobering quote found in Catton.  (He's actually quoting a Northern congressman who opposed the long-term implications of the Emancipation of slaves.)

"The people of the south have not been aroused against the people of the North by the love of slavery.  I am to 
the manner born and know whereof I speak--
it is Negro equality, not slavery, that they are fighting about."

Another observation Catton makes:

"The dread of equality was one of the things that had destroyed unity in the first place.  When the President proclaimed the emancipation of slaves he had made it impossible for the Southern leadership to accept reunion, and he had disturbed many people in the North as well.  The proclamation was a commitment to the future, of almost unlimited scope.  In the war that had called it forth the past was breaking up, and a thing done to win the war had to be at the same time a thing done to help shape the future."

So maybe now you can see why I find these books so fascinating.  The fact that we are at the threshhold of nominating and possibly electing a black president is significant beyond exaggeration.  Especially seen through the prism of these three books. Without this horrible time of our history, this unprecedented possibility would never have seen the light of day. That which was begun on January 1, 1863, has truly "shaped the future." 

A gathering of artillery in Virginia

An encampment on the Cumberland Plateau in middle Tennessee

A field hospital.  Would make M*A*S*H* seem like the Mayo Clinic!
 (An effective anesthesia hadn't yet been discovered!)

Dead artillerymen at Antietam (Sharpsburg), Maryland

A possible ancestor!!!  One "Colonel Sewall"

If I'd been there, I probably would have wound up in this outfit!

Friday, May 16, 2008

Here's Something to Mentally Chew On . . .

A strange idea popped into my head today. . . .With this being such a highly dramatic political year, and since Hillary and Barack are so close in popular and delegate votes, would there be any chance Hillary would go Independent if she fails to get the nomination?  I know she's vowed to support whoever the Democratic candidate is, but she's been known to "miss-speak" from time to time. It would certainly be her prerogative to run on an Independent ticket. That would really do a number on the November ballot. It would also give new meaning to Rush's "Operation Chaos!"

Just a thought for the day.  I've never heard the idea put forward anywhere among all the speculators.  If, on the unlikely chance such a thing should occur, remember you read it here first!

DRAT! Now I HAVE To Go On A Diet!!!

I just heard on the news this afternoon that obesity is contributing to Global Warming. Apparently, it takes more carbon credits to transport our big bottoms and bellies on our nation's highways.  We burn more gas. (Our vehicles do too!)  We also require more a.c. in the hot months because all the body fat insulation keeps us toasty warm.

Guess that means no more super-sizing for me!

[NOTE:  I deleted a really gross picture here.  It was gagging me every time I saw it.  That's why Diane Davis commented as she did!  Let's just say it was a very, very, very large shirtless guy in front of a MacDonalds--hauling his gut in a wheelbarrow.  Yeah, not pretty.]

Thursday, May 15, 2008

Unusual Food Pairings


Mmmmmm...Lyn bought a new kind of pretzel the other day:  Snyders Honey Mustard & Onion.  Reallllly tasty. Which reminded me of an unusual combination of tastes I "invented" the other day.  I can't even remember how I happened to have gotten pretzels and ginger in close proximity to each other.  I think I was snacking on some pretzels and Lyn had brought home some Chinese food or something.

ANYWAY, a sliver of fresh ginger with a little pretzel twist was an amazing flavor combination. I was shocked at how good it tasted. I highly recommend it.

So, I'd be really interested to hear of some strange (but tasty) food/snack combinations you enjoy that people don't usually think go together. (Beenie Weenie's don't count!)

(Who would have thought ranch dressing and bar-b-que sauce would be a good salad dressing?  But at Stone Fire Grill, they make a killing with that combination!)


So much bruhaha today about Obama saying "Sweetie" to the female reporter who was asking a question.  Granted, it probably wasn't the best choice of a word in a professional situation.  But he was busy with other people, and the reporter basically interrupted him with her question.  It might have been a bit condescending, but no worse than if it had been a male reporter and he used the term "buddy"--as in, "I'll get back to you on that, Buddy."  That's an annoying little term, too, but guys use it with each other all the time.  Does that mean we need to apologize to guys we happen to call "Buddy?"  I don't THINK so. But it's the same reasoning.

He was wise to apologize, just because it was unprofessional and condescending.  BUT, he wasn't being sexist--in my opinion.  Besides, the guy is exhausted.  Yesterday he said something about "fifty-seven or fifty-eight states."  Fatigue makes you say weird things.

Tuesday, May 13, 2008

Stalking Paid Off

I was stalking one of Jennifer's friend's blogs today (Rachel) and found this great YouTube collection of early Michael/Toby confrontations...from THE OFFICE.
It was a terrific late afternoon pick-me-up. (Especially after being depressed by learning from Diane Davis' blog how many great books I'd never HEARD of that I probably need to be reading.)  Thanks, Rachel!!!

Sunday, May 11, 2008


The Table is Spread!  TIME TO PARTY

What a whirlwind weekend.  Saturday was the big combined birthday party for Lexi and Jack (Goble).  Lexi turns 2 in 10 minutes (it's 11:50 pm at this second).  Jack turns 2 on Thursday.

Lexi and Jack in the Sunshine, Making Bubbles

Lexi LOVES making bubbles!  She still hasn't quite got the technique down!

The kids loved the bouncers!  Birthday Boy Jack was a happy camper!

Lexi is a big fan of edamame (soybeans).  ME TOO!

It was a big day for Emily, too.  Her actual 6th Month-Day

Lexi and Kristi enjoying their hot dogs and chips!

Stacey Accetta and Lexi in awe of the birthday cake!

Birthdays mean PRESENTS!!  Lexi and Jack both did VERY well!!!

Did somebody say PARTY??  Molly loves to celebrate!

A video recap of the party is below.

The weekend really was fun.  In addition to the birthday party, of course was Mother's Day. This was Jennifer's first Mother's Day.  Lyn, Kristi, Jennifer, Haley, Lexi, and Emily had breakfast together this morning!  Great fun was had by all.

Then tonight, Lyn and I enjoyed a fun dinner with Jen, Brian, & Emily.  We ate at a GREAT restaurant in Ladera Ranch.  VERY tasty!

At dinner tonight, celebrating Jennifer's 1st Mother's Day!

A video recap of the big birthday party!

Tonight after dinner, Emily and Brian were having some 
great bonding time!  If you listen closely you can hear Emily
laughing--She loved this!

Friday, May 9, 2008

50 Years Ago Today -- A letter to my mother

It's so weird writing about something "fifty years ago today" in reference to yourself. Nevertheless, 50 years ago this very day, I was a 9-year old kid who wrote a note to his mom.  (It was probably a school project.)  I never realized how much it must have meant to her until I found it as I was going through her things after her death. I made a little video clip of it (below) so you can see the original.

I share it with you here as my way of saying Happy Mother's Day to this wonderful woman! (By the way, you might be clueless as to what "mercurochrome" is.  It was the panacea to little kids like band-aids are today.  Every conceivable cut or scrape needed the magic touch of the red ointment in order for "healing" to take place!)  My writing style reminds me of Sheldon, one of the nerd physicists on CBS's BIG BANG THEORY!

Kissimmee, Florida
May 9, 1958

Dear Mother,

I am very glad for what you have done for me.  I appreciate the way you cook my supper, dinner, and breakfast.  You make my bed, and clean and iron my clothes.  I like the way you care for me when I'm sick and buying my mercurochrome, and paddling me when I need it, and of course, loving me.

I hope you have a very nice Mothers Day for this is the only reason that I wrote this. I love you and I want to help you when you are in need.

Today at 3:00 to 4:30 is James birthday party at the lakefront.  I hope you come and pick me up.

Monday the P.T.A. night is at eight o'clock.  I hope you come very much.  And I also want to mention that I love you a lot.

Your only son,

Happy Mother's Day, Mom.  I miss you!

Mom and I at the Cracker Barrel in Kissimmee--
a few months before her death.

Thursday, May 8, 2008

60 Years Ago Today -- Happy Birthday, Israel!!

The nation of Israel has existed throughout my lifetime. It was only 16 months old when I was born. Reading about its birth has always been fascinating to me. Congratulations to this amazing, truly miraculous nation!

The 2nd video is particularly interesting.  

Wednesday, May 7, 2008

The New Me

The FCC keyboard player at last weekend's RetroFest.  

What happened to his Guns & Roses tee?  SHEESH!  I would include the link to the video on Billy's blog, but since you've all probably seen it already, I'll save myself the humiliation of Flab Redundancy.  

Jennie Craig, anyone?

Aw, heck... I'll embed it here anyway. 

Monday, May 5, 2008

Almost Perfect Potluck

Last night's potluck was a blast.  It had all the necessary ingredients:  laughing children, Kentucky Fried Chicken, casseroles, jello, banana pudding, Robert Redford Dessert (a.k.a. "Better Than Sex"), Derby Pie (shipped in from Louisville!), homemade rolls, and expanded waistlines.  We even sang the "Doxology" before eating!  The only thing missing was Van Camps Beanee Weenees.  Lyn and I actually stopped at Ralphs to buy some, but they didn't carry them.  I told Heidi (who was GREATLY disappointed that we didn't bring them) I would order her a case for Mother's Day.

Aside from the lack of Beanee Weenees, the occasion was picture perfect!

Sunday, May 4, 2008

Countdown to POTLUCK

Here we come, Memory Lane!

Just a few hours now 'til the Bloggers/ArtsOnMain Old Fashioned Church PotLuck/Carry-In Dinner.  Can't wait.

(Ladies, I'll be willing to print recipe cards on our new printer, if you'd like!)  :)

Saturday, May 3, 2008

I'm Such A Techno Stud

Our new HP J6480 Flatbed All-In-One Printer

Our printer died yesterday--after I'd just ordered 2 full sets of ink for it!

Anyway, I found a great deal at Staples this afternoon.  Just went in the store to check out what they had, and was really stoked to have come in on the last day of a "Recycle Your Printer" special.  ($50 off your new printer in exchange for the old one)  I had been wondering what I'd do with the old printer, so Staples solved my problem AND gave me a deal on a great new printer.  (Which was on a pretty good sale already--which also ended today!)  The printer is the HP J6480.  It's really cool--wireless even!  And has a fax built in.

I got it installed with no problems, and am actually able to print from my laptop--something I was never able to do with the other printer.  Tomorrow I will set up the fax function--hopefully.

So....if you or anyone you know has an Epson Stylus CX5200 printer, I'll be happy to give you some ink cartridges for it!

Meanwhile, we'll be enjoying our new HP!

Thursday, May 1, 2008

May Day - 1998

Nine years ago today, I was in Florence, Italy!  What an amazing city.  Although technically I was "alone," I didn't feel that way.  After all, when you're surrounded by so much beauty, so much history, and so much music, how could you possibly feel lonely?   It was great.  I WANNA GO BACK!!!